Hundreds of healthcare workers are striking today at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. The planned five-day strike is being led by the National Union of Healthcare Workers, which represents about 740 staff at the hospital.
A union statement claims that hospital management is putting them at risk by failing to provide enough personal protective equipment. They’re also protesting a plan that would more than double annual healthcare premiums for workers.
For their part, hospital officials claim that any statement denying that PPE was provided is simply not true. In a statement, Hospital CEO Tyler Hedden claims that the hospital wants to reach an agreement with the union as soon as possible so that employees can receive the immediate wage increases the hospital is offering. Wages for union workers are set to increase 12% over four years, added to other wage increases based on seniority.
Workers are currently operating without a contract. Negotiations have lasted more than a year without an agreement. The hospital’s last bargaining update came on June 19, with promises to increase wages, provide more health plan options, and increase paid time off. But they didn’t meet union demands.
Now is a tough time for a labor dispute; Sonoma county, where the hospital is located, is facing a 40% jump in coronavirus cases over the past week. The hospital is contracting with replacement caregivers to ensure continued care for patients is provided while workers are striking.